Do you know that it's bad to win the argument but lose the client?

Last updated by Chloe Lin [SSW] 4 months ago.See history

The impulse to win an argument and prove that you are right can be a strong driving force, but it goes without saying that it should not take priority over keeping a good client.

Video: Do you know it's better to lose the battle but keep the client? (4 min)

In the software world, a common point of difference is about the architecture of a proposed solution. The preferred approach is usually to implement an architecture that is "future proofed", so that future changes a client wants are easier to implement. It's the same as a builder saying "I should rough in some plumbing in this area now because it will make it cheaper to install an ensuite in the future." It will always cost a little more to plan for the future, but it will save money, and time, in the long run.

If you're unable to persuade a client to take your preferred approach, it's important to show empathy and demonstrate that you understand your client's point of view...or at are least trying to :)

If the situation escalates and the client is genuinely upset, make sure you start any reply with something like "I understand your frustration". At this point in time, you want to aim for a compromise, where each party meets the other, somewhere in the middle.

The operation was a complete success but the patient died...

Figure: Don't be righteous

How to understand and rationalize dissenting opinions

While not being able to persuade the client can be frustrating, understand there are 3 common reasons why 2 reasonable people don’t agree on a point:

  1. You haven’t explained your point well enough. e.g. you haven’t given them all the information
  2. You don’t understand the full context for their decision. e.g. they haven’t given you all the information
  3. One party is not able to process the extra information e.g. they may be emotionally invested

If it’s something you care a lot about then give the client some space and try again later, making sure you ask questions about their needs in the meantime. If the client feels like you are listening to their concerns sincerely you are more likely to be able to persuade them of your approach. For example, send a 1 week follow up to yourself to have another discussion to try and explain your point again, this time touching different points. During this 2nd conversation, you might be able to get more information from them to understand their point.

If after this, you still can’t agree, then go with what the client wants...if it's really important then send a gently worded email For the Record to document your opinion and make sure it is clear that you didn't agree with them.

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